The Serene Branson video, taken of the Los Angeles CBS2 and KCAL-9 reporter on Sunday night after the Grammys, was nothing short of horrifying. Once we knew it wasn't a joke, we wondered if it was a stroke. Two days later, the official word is that it wasn't a stroke either. But no one is saying what did cause the young woman to speak in unintelligible words during her broadcast.
Last night, anchors for KCAL-9 said Branson had suffered from "health-related problems" (huh?) -- but that she is feeling better (yay). They also said that Branson "followed up with a visit to the doctor for medical tests" (oookay?) and hopes to be back on the air soon (good).
Do they really think that's enough information to satiate the public's curiosity about this bizarre incident?
Then again, why do we deserve to know anything above and beyond that? I have to say that leaving it at "Branson suffered from health-related problems" is kind of lame. In other words, "She wasn't drunk or on drugs." Even complications caused by intoxication could be considered a "health-related problem." That is so vague, it's sort of insulting. As for the "visit to the doctor for medical tests," okay, fair enough that they didn't elaborate on that. We don't really need to be aware of what particular medical tests Branson had. Even though we want to know, of course.
Here's the thing: It’s not really our business, but the incident was just so bizarre that it's terribly frustrating not to know what happened to Branson! No, public figures don't "owe" us the gory details -- or even the basic details -- when their health fails. I mean, look at Aretha Franklin. We saw a tribute to her on the Grammys, because she couldn't be there, because she's been so sick. But with what? Nobody knows! Maybe pancreatic cancer? But she won't confirm it. The public really has no clue. But so what? It's not our business.
That said, by sharing the nitty-gritty on their health struggles, public figures like Serene and Aretha might be able to help others. There was actually a study that found celebrity diagnoses can boost public health. Specifically, reality TV phenomenon Jade Goody's diagnosis of cervical cancer and related death led to an increase in the number of people looking for information about cervical cancer and screening.
Of course, it's still totally up to the public figure if they want to divulge the details of their personal health condition. They don't OWE the public anything.
As for Branson, it's possible that instead of a stroke, she suffered a complex migraine caused by stress. (As a journalist myself, I can definitely see that being a possibility.) If that were the case, it makes sense that she wasn't admitted to the hospital, but that she would be going to a doc for follow-up tests. At any rate, I hope she feels better enough to go back to work soon ... But here's to hoping a.) she manages her stress level and b.) she finds out and shares exactly what happened at some point. Ya never know. Her self-reported story could end up saving someone else who finds themselves in the same boat.
Image via CBS LosAngeles.com